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“It's a trip”

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The Sanctuary Thailand
Ranked #21 of 91 Hotels in Ko Pha Ngan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed May 2, 2011

The Sanctuary is a culture and experience in it's own right..It's not for everybody but if you share the beliefs and values of the place, you'll have a great time...and if not, there are many many other places to stay...

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled solo
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1  Thank tellytubby27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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409 - 415 of 558 reviews

Reviewed April 26, 2011

Not knowing what to expect I arrived at the sanctuary and knew I had come to my bliss. Wow!
The staff, the warmth and energy of the place, the food!!! The people that make their way there.
After three months traveling I needed a place to sit, to think, to meditate and to feel at peace.
Whether it was on the beach, in the forest, doing yoga in the jungle, getting massaged or laying in my hammock overlooking the ocean. Everywhere I turned was another place to really concentrate on the things I needed.
Surrounded by incredibly loving new friends it was extremely difficult to pack to come home. But now I know where it is will definately be back:))))
Thankyou to the owners and managers. These places are rare to find.
Love and warmth
Deb Braitberg

  • Stayed: March 2011
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1  Thank Debbraitberg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2011

This is my second trip to the Sanctuary and I enjoyed it as much as the first. This time I did a 5 day fast instead of a 7 day as I wanted to be able to eat some of the food while I was here.

I had booked the speedboat transfer to pick me up from Samui airport. Unfortunately, due to rough seas the speedboat wasn't running on the night of my arrival - this was fine, but no-one was at the airport to meet me or tell me this so I didn't know what was happening and waited for a long time. After a few phone calls to the Sanctuary, they sent a driver to pick me up and take me to a hotel in Samui for the night. Although this was irritating, it worked out better for me as I shared the speedboat with a group of other people the next morning so it cost me less than if I'd crossed the night before.

Last year I had an aircon room which was nice, but there wasn't really anywhere comfortable to sit outside the room so this time I went for the Thai bungalow which was fantastic as well as being a lot cheaper. It had a hammock on the balcony which I loved. The only very minor gripe was that the toilet is down a flight of stairs and it's very dark at night so take a torch if you're in one of these bungalows! The maid service was as always excellent - the room is cleaned and bedding/towels changed every 3 days.

The support for fasters is excellent - Moon and his staff are helpful, enthusiastic and kind. One of the fasters had a birthday while we were there and they made him a 'cake' out of a coconut with candles and flowers which was lovely. I also took advantage of the free spa tickets that come as part of the fasting package and had some great massages and other beauty treatments. There is also a very good masseuse next to the LoveLip shop.

I also booked a tarot reading at the Life Centre (formerly known as the Tea Temple) which turned out to be rather disappointing as the reader decided at the last minute not to use tarot cards and instead spent 30 minutes simply talking to me which for 1200 baht wasn't particularly good value for money. However, when I spoke to Michael at the Life Centre and explained, he handled it brilliantly and refunded my money immediately so no complaint there. There was also a couple of film nights at the Life Centre which were excellent and the bar had open mike nights and live music.

A lot of reviewers seem to complain about the cost of the Sanctuary and yes, it probably is expensive compared to other accommodation in Thailand, but it's a resort so that's hardly a surprise. A two week holiday somewhere hot and relaxing that still comes in at under £600 is pretty good value in my book. If you expect five-star luxury, book a five-star hotel. I've also seen complaints about cliques which I think is just bizarre. Why would you care if a group of people you don't know and will never see again don't make polite conversation with you? Both times I have been here on my own and both times I've met some great people as well as felt comfortable chilling out on my own.

Some tips for future visitors: the speedboat transfer is expensive but ask in the bar for them to put a notice up to see if others will share the cost. I did this and it cost me 2000 baht instead of 6000. Take a torch as it's very dark after the resort lights are turned off and you could end up squishing a frog (there are dozens of them everywhere). There's a rave at a bar very close by every Friday which goes on for the best part of 24 hours and is very loud, so use your ear plugs. The Spice restaurant can also get quite noisy and the bungalows are very near to it. If you want a quieter beach, go to Why Nam which is 10 minutes walk away. It's beautiful.

All in all, I had a great trip again and was lucky as I left the day before the severe flooding in the region.

Room Tip: Go for the Thai bungalow
See more room tips
  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled solo
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1  Thank BPH09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2011

I went to The Sanctuary with my partner for two weeks to relax after a busy time at work. I was interested by the activities available (Yoga, Meditation) but wanted more to just escape and relax.

Looking through some other posts, I would agree, in the first few days the restaurant area did seem a little divided between 'tourists' and regulars. But I also see it as a very diverse place, full of different characters there for different reasons - I felt able to be myself and mix/ be alone as I wished. I was friendly and chatted to those that other describe as 'in the in group' and generally people were all really nice. Until you actually make an effort to talk to someone (if connection is what you are looking for) then how can you make a judgement about who/how they are? The restaurant is a space open to the public, not just guests and therefore acts as a meeting place for the whole community.

The staff were FANTASTIC. Could not be more helpful - knew and used our names from day 1, had time to chat and be friendly, not just do their jobs and nothing more. Any issues we had were dealt with quickly and well.

I loved the beach - thought it was really good for swimming (as many other beaches in the North are shallow for a long way out so not so great) and there are some amazing fish and corals to look at snorkelling right there in front on you, no boat ride needed.

We had a brilliant time - loved it, and hope to return.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank zoe2605
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 22, 2011

if you go here for the fasting, the yoga, it is good. for backpackers this is more expensive than the nearby bamboo or beams bungalows. the food is nice with good choice, all wholesome and good. service is very slow, even when its empty. 40 minutes is an average wait even for a fruit bowl. not suitable for kids, that said everyone has been really nice to ours, it is just not safe for them or set up for them. no pool and the beach looks better than it is.

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank poshtravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 1, 2011

After a rather bouncy taxi boat ride from Haad Rin to Haad Tien we jumped into the water and dragged our tired bodies along the beach towards the Sanctuary.......as we approached in the darkness, we were greeted by a wonderful sight- HAPPY PEOPLE!! We walked upto the reception and put down our backpacks which were taken by staff upto our accomodation for the 5 nights (the Leela House). There was such a nice atmosphere and we felt relaxed and at home within the first few minutes of being there. Very friendly staff came over, offered us a table in the beach front restaurant (best veggie restaurant I've been to in my 21 years of being veggie) and listened to Frank Zappa in the background- Perfect. The food in the restaurant is absolutely amazing!! Lots of lovely homemade smoothies, various homemade vegetarian burgers, beautiful salads and fantastic homemade cakes! Its is veggie heaven.
We got shown to the Leela House and we were both made up with it. Very clean and tidy, very spacious with a funky seating area and a hammock. We arrived at 9pm so couldnt appreciate the view until the morning and woke up to a beautifully clear day with a view over the trees and onto the beack and water. Wonderful! Didn;t notice any mosquitos thank god because they usually love me! Nice hot water in a separate bathroom and a thai style toilet (you get used to them but there were also ones with seats near the restaurant!)
Over the 6 days we were there, the staff were unbelievably friendly and attentive- anything you asked they were able to accomodate with a smile! Really lovely feeling to the place, people chilling on hammocks, low music in the background, children laughing and playing, the water washing up on the beach, the birds making funky noises! Such a nice place.
We had an absolute ball here, we had a wedding ceremony on the 3rd day and the staff were amazing. Some of the girls who work there made our beautiful flower arrangements and Mike the manager booked me into the spa for some relaxing treatments before the ceremony. I can't stress enough how nice this place is, if you are the right kind of person then its the right kind of place. People are very friendly, think of a nice friendly festival where everyone talks to everyone and nobody judges.
Every night there is something going on- beach cinema, open mic night, party night etc... Theres something fun for everyone.
Happy life loving people on a beautifully hippy-bohemian type resort. Don't just read about it, experience it for yourselves :-)
Enjoy and be happy, Jo and Brad :-)

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank griffin13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2011

We arrived for a 7 day detox with our confirmation emails and prices in tow. We got there to be told we couldn't do the 7 day detox as we were only there for 7 days, we didn't know you needed to do a pre-cleanse diet, and if we had this info it could've been arranged. They were also charging a lot more than originally agreed. The girl at reception checking in was extremely stressed and while trying to be patient she seemed to be dealing with everyone's complaints, there were no managers around or so we were told.

Our room, the Sunshine House, was fabulous but was a very long trek up the mountain. My friend had an accident earlier in the week and hurt her foot therefore it was impossible for her to get to the room. The staff's response was to tell us it was impossible and that was it, NO other help at all!!! The information we received was from other guests.....

The food was lovely however took about an hour and a few reminders to get to us. The atmosphere in the place, I found very stressful and tense for a place that is supposed to be a 'Sanctuary'.... One morning, the girl at reception was shouting at a guest whom she was having problems with, I found this unprofessional, she did however pause to kiss someone else and sweetly say hello (also unprofessional) so there is definitely a vibe of 'cool' people returning and being treated very well while the rest of us are ignored or are treated rudely...

We left early and there was no help offered or information given.... Would never go back or return to this place.

The positive was the helpful guests there willing to provide information the staff weren't...

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled with friends
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2  Thank CJMM77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SanctuaryThailand, Owner at The Sanctuary Thailand, responded to this reviewResponded March 22, 2011

Hi..firstly I am sorry these guests did not enjoy their stay. Information on fasting and preparing for your fast is send to every person that inquires about fasting also a complete "What to do before a fast" is clearly on our web site for all to read. As to the guest hurting their foot and having problems to walk , this is out of our control I checked and we were completely booked out on these dates and being that 75 % of our accommodation is up a hill a change of bungalows probably would not have helped her foot problem.
We also make sure that a duty manager and his or hers assistant is ready to help every hour whilst open to deal with problems.Most people as most of our reviews point out, love our staff here who are all are great and try so hard to help the guests. I am sorry these factors for these guests did not fall into place.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Sanctuary Thailand

Address: Had Tien Bay, Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand (Formerly The Sanctuary Island Resort)
Phone Number:
Location: Thailand > Surat Thani Province > Ko Pha Ngan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#9 Spa Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
#14 On the Beach Hotel in Ko Pha Ngan
Number of rooms: 21
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Established in 1991 The Sanctuary is a unique beach front resort offering beautiful houses, comfortable bungalows and budget dorm beds & boasts a 300 + vegetarian and seafood menu & bakery. Offering a diverse Spa menu & Detox fasting center, day trips, Kayaking, snorkelling and our gym to encourage you out of your beach front hammock. An eclectic mix of guests ensures a special beach holiday. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
The Sanctuary Island Hotel Koh Phangan
The Sanctuary Island Spa

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